Best. Pie. EVER.

There's just not a whole lot to say about this pie.  I saw it on (I know, I know, I tend to obsess when I find something good) Smitten Kitchen and thought, "Ooh that looks yummy.  It will be perfect for the cookout with Beth and Justin!"  Just all non-chalant like that.  Not that I didn't think it would be good...I just didn't think it would be "Oh my god I could eat this whole pie by MYSELF" good.  Yeah.  For serious.

So back to the story! We had our friends Beth and Justin and their little cutie Henry over for a barbeque.  We just made some steaks, a green bean potato salad, and some grilled veggies.  It was so nice to spend time with our friends, and the weather here in DC has been just gorgeous!  I wanted to have something cold for dessert, but didn't want to give up on a big "bang" of flavor, so I searched Smitten Kitchen's arsenal of pie recipes, and came across the recipe for Chocolate Pudding Pie. 

The first obstacle I ran into was that I had a packet of pie recipes with an EXCELLENT pie crust recipe, but I lost it!  I was so forlorn.  How would I make pie?!  Well, I decided that Deb could never do me wrong, so I used the all-butter pie crust recipe she had on the site.  OH my gosh.  I'll never go back.  So buttery, flaky, delicious.  The pudding?  I'm not sure I'll ever make it out of the box again.  And the very lightly sweetened whipped cream on top?  The perfect compliment to the rich, thick pudding.  I'm telling you.  Make this.  How good was it, you ask?  I had a piece.  I tried to pawn the rest off on Justin and Beth, but they wouldn't take it.  They left.  I had another piece.  I put it in the fridge.  I came back to it the next day.  I had another piece.  Midway through that last piece I shouted "NO MORE!! I need to throw this #@*% pie AWAY!" as I felt it's chocolatey buttery goodness settling in on my hips.  It pained me, but I knew it was for my own good.

Worry not, friends.  I have a feeling this pie will be making an appearance again soon!  We're moving in the next couple weeks to a new, and much bigger apartment.  I'm thinking there's a housewarming barbeque in our future...and I'm thinking this chocolate pudding pie will be our guest of honor!

Now on to the recipe (straight from Smitten Kitchen)!

Adapted from Gourmet

One of my favorite things about this — besides the whole CHOCOLATE and PUDDING and PIE thing — is the way that despite its all-id, kid-like nature, this pie is surprisingly unsweet and not heavy. There’s barely a half cup of sugar in the whole she-bang and the lack of excessive richness (it’s a milk and cornstarch pudding, not a weighty egg yolk and cream custard) makes for something you can easily crave on a hot summer day, although you’ve already been warned that that craving may strike without warning.

One half-recipe of All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough, wrapped and chilled for at least 30 minutes

Pudding filling:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy cream
Bittersweet chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
Prepare pie dough: Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp edge decoratively. Prick bottom and side of shell all over with a fork, then chill shell 30 minutes. While shell chills, preheat oven to 375°F with a baking sheet on middle rack. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights*.
Bake on baking sheet until pastry is set and edge is pale golden, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil, then bake shell on baking sheet until pale golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool shell.
Make pudding filling: Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk [tips alert!] in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, two minutes (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.

Pour filling into cooled shell and chill, its surface covered with wax paper (if you want to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least two hours.

Just before serving, beat cream with remaining two tablespoons sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings, if you’re feeling fancy.

Do ahead: Pie dough can be made and chilled up to two days. Pie, without whipped cream, can be chilled up to one day before serving. Whipped cream is best added at the last minute, however, I did find that ours held up surprisingly well for a day (so far), if you feel like winging it.

* Detour! This is where I admit that I for reasons both lengthy and boring, I really loathe working with pie weights and use a different technique to blind bake pie and pastry shells. Instead, I freeze my rolled-out shells for 20 to 30 minutes until solid, press a piece of buttered foil, buttered side down, very tightly against the frozen shell and blind bake it according to regular directions. When it is time to remove the weights, I carefully pull back the foil, and press any part of the crust that has bubbled up gently back with the back of a spoon and continue baking the shell. Try it!

Natalie note: I used a bag of uncooked kidney beans as my pie weights.  Works every time!!
Seriously guys.  Make this pie.  But don't blame me when you sit on your couch rubbing your belly and cursing it's chocolatey goodness.  It can't help that it's got Mary Poppins Syndrome!  You's practically perfect in every way? Har har har!  Okay, and there's your daily dose of cheesey jokes.  Enjoy!!

Smitten with Smitten Kitchen!

The last time you logged on here, I made some delicious St. Patty's Day cupcakes.  In making that cake, I rediscovered my favorite blog Smitten Kitchen, and I've been a woman obsessed.  There's this handy little button called "Surprise Me!" on the left side of the side, and MAN!  I could spend all day clicking that link and just daydreaming about all of the possibilities.  Cakes, pies, side dishes, main courses, appetizers, EVERYTHING!  Girlfriend has mad skills, and an amazing sense of humor on top of that.  If you haven't been to, you're missing out!

So to begin, the obsession with this recipe started with a picture.  Sometimes I'll see a recipe or see a photo and I'll have this "Oh-my-god-if-I-don't-make-this-I-may-die" moment, and before I know it I'm making a grocery list.  The first photo on this blog post made me have such a moment, and voila!  Cupcakes. 

This cake was not meant to be a cupcake, and after making them, I can see why.  This cake is so light and delicate, one of mine actually collapsed under the weight of the frosting!  I can completely see this working better as a cake.  Especially if you were to keep it light on the frosting--it packs a serious punch!  It was so strong I actually decided to nix the glaze for the cupcakes.  I think I would definitely make it like Deb did on the blog with a full cake, but I'm happy with my decision to leave it out for the cupcakes.  Why am I happy?  Because where my coworkers usually blow through 2 (or sometimes 3!) cupcakes at a time at work, and the other day's PB&C cupcakes actually didn't go very fast at all, and we had some leftovers.  This NEVER happens people.  It was just weird!  So while I wouldn't say it was a raving success, it definitely wasn't a failure either (they were still delish, people!).  I would totally use this peanut butter frosting on anything and everything else.  Seriously. Bookmark it.  Use it.  Love it.

Now on to the recipe, because the next one I give you is a doozy!

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
from Smitten Kitchen (copied from the site)

Adapted, only barely, from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes
This cake is INTENSE. Serve it in the thinnest slices possible, and keep a glass of milk handy.

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16 (the book says, I say a heck of a lot more)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (I skipped this)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)
1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm
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